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Three Oregon Coast Hotspots Packing a Surprise Punch, Hidden Treasure

Published 06/18/21 at 2:25 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Oregon Coast Hotspots Packing a Surprise Punch, Hidden Treasure

(Oregon Coast) – Sometimes you can go to a favorite Oregon coast destination and not know half the things that are really there. Your top two or three go-to spots may be hiding some unusual surprises, like hidden shipwrecks, a unique beach or bizarre rocky structures you had no clue existed. (Above: wreck of the George L. Olson in 2007, courtesy Steven Greif, Coos History Museum)

Case in point: here's some eyebrow-raising finds in Lincoln City, near Manzanita and at North Bend. They're hidden treasures of a sort: historical and scenic treasures.

The Unknown Lincoln City

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In a town where the beaches are all easily accessed and usually quite populated, there are virtually no hidden spots. However, there is one deliciously, fairly clandestine beach access at the northern end of town - even if it doesn't necessarily guarantee you'll find yourself alone on this stretch of sand.

At the very northern edges of Lincoln City, between the casino and Roads End state park access, look for the sign pointing to NW 50th amid these laidback neighborhood streets. Follow that to its end, where it meets NW Jetty, and you'll find a gravel path which winds its way down to the beach. Along the way, there's another tunnel-like path that looks a little like the famed Hobbit Trail down near Florence, although that doesn't seem to lead anywhere.

Once on the beach, it's the only access for about half a mile in either direction. There are some interesting rock features here created by a crumbling cliff, and the sand is pristine and more than a little pleasant.

Revelations Near Short Sands Beach / Manzanita

Just a few files north of Manzanita, Oswald West State Park and its forests cover a large chunk of this part of the north Oregon coast. Somewhere between that town and the state park, it's impossible to miss the striking vistas of Short Sands Beach and the cliffs that form half of this crescent-shaped cove.

Pull over at one of the gravel parking spots off the side of the road, and there's the one-mile-plus hiking trail heading down to Short Sands. Walk down this trail a bit, veer to the left - instead of going down to Short Sands - and you'll encounter a totally different set of inclines and cliffs. Giant basalt structures form the various headlands here, with craggy shapes that are both eerie and magnificent jutting up from the ocean in pointed spires or other mysterious shapes.

In one area, the sea boils and rumbles against a hidden cove, with black, jagged columns of basalt forming gargantuan, even soaring structures that sometimes look like something out of Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Another spot visible from these dangerous cliffs showcases more of the wild formations, this time with enormous holes and arches in them. Through these, you can see other headlands to the north.

Be extremely careful here, however. The drop-offs here are sudden and deadly. In fact, it was near here where a famed Hollywood writer and producer – the creator of “COPS” - died here in the early 2000s after falling off a cliff.

Coos Bay's Horsfall Beach: Shipwreck Land

Photo courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, Charleston, North Bend

If any one place can seem a magnet for shipwrecks, that would be Horsfall Beach near Coos Bay / North Bend, on the southern Oregon coast.

These days, it's mostly a long, long flat stretch of coastline that goes on for miles, almost mimicking the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area just north without actually being the dunes area. Fairly large dune sections exist between the beach and the main access roads, and largely it's dune buggy territory both on those dunes, around the lakes and on that beach all the way down the three miles to the North Spit.

However, two delicious secrets lie in these sands. One is the wreck of the Sujemeco, which sometimes appears during winter's lowered sand levels. A few ragged chunks of metal stick up from the sands, the melancholy remnants of some serious bad luck back in 1929.

According to the Coos History Museum, there would likely be more of this visible if the needs of World War II hadn't resulted in the metal getting stripped away.

Dozens and dozens of ships have met their doom in the Coos Bay area, but the only other one still below the sands is the George L. Olson shiprweck, which smashed along the north spit in 1944. However, it's only popped up once since the ‘60s, appearing in the early 2000s. (See South Oregon Coast Shipwrecks At A Glance: There Are Hundreds)

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